It’s a We program – Episode 139

the seaThe first word of the first step is “We”. It is often said “this is a ‘we’ program.” What does that really mean? How do we find recovery from sharing our experience, strength and hope?

    • All the steps (not just the first) start with “we”.
      • The AA big book prefaces the steps with “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:”
      • The foreword to the 3rd edition of the AA “big book” says “… at its core it remains simple and personal. Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.
      • We know who we mean
        • Tradition 3 says “… The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.”
        • Tradition 5: “… welcoming families of alcoholics …”
      • Fellowship
        • This word appears over 60 times in the text of How Al-Anon Works.
        • You may have first heard this word in the suggested opening words at your first meeting:

          We welcome you to [this] Al-Anon Family Group and hope you will find in this fellowship the help and friendship we have been privileged to enjoy. We who live or have lived with the problem of alcoholism understand as perhaps few others can. We, too, were lonely and frustrated, but in Al-Anon/ Alateen we discover that no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not. We urge you to try our program. It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity. So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.

      • How it works
        • My experience
        • First meeting: no longer alone (I was “one more”)
        • Early meetings: finding commonality
        • Wanting “what you had”. Others had walked this path before me.
        • Getting a sponsor: A personal companion on the journey. A voice that is not mine.
        • Working the steps in a group: coming to trust. I’m not uniquely broken. Letting go of shame.
      • Step 12: “… to carry this message to others”
        • We do this. Not professionals, not specialists, but us, and only us.
        • Leading the “newcomers’ meeting”. Sharing our experience, giving those new to the program a place to share theirs and to ask questions.
        • Being a sponsor
      • I say “we” because I heal when you share your experience, strength and hope with me. I heal when I become part of “we”. And we know who we mean. And each day, we become (at least) one more.

    Upcoming topics include the first gift of Al-Anon: “We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder. Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.” How do you see this gift appearing in your life?

    A suggested topic is “recovery after divorce.” Please share your experience so others can benefit.

    Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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    Tradition 8 – Episode 83

    unityDo you find yourself looking for the “experts” in your meetings? Do you sometimes feel like you have nothing to offer? How do we help one another in Al-Anon? Today, we’re going to talk about Tradition 8, which states “Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

    Spencer and Ruth talk about Tradition 8, guided by these thought questions.

    • How does the reading match with my experience in Al-Anon?
    • Why do we have this tradition?
    • What are the advantages of a “fellowship of equals”?
    • What are the disadvantages?
    • Do I look to certain members as “experts”?
      • How can this be a problem for me?
      • How can this be a problem for them?
    • Do I sometimes feel reluctant to share because I’m not an “expert”?
    • Am I sometimes reluctant to share my problems because I feel I have to be “perfect” in my program?
    • How can I share with others without trying to fix them?
    • Am I sometimes “Mr or Ms Alanon”?
    • How/when am I judgemental?
    • How/when do I take others’ inventories?
    • What about paid employees (“special workers”)?
    • Final thoughts?

    Our topic for next week is “The 4 M's: Managing, Manipulation, Mothering, and Martyrdom”. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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    friends – a meditation


    You become like the people you spend the most time with.


    I see this quote in two ways. The first is that I become like the people I spend most of my time with. And the second is that the people I spend the most time with reflect back to me who I am and how I see myself. That is that my outsides reflect my insides. I surround myself with what I believe to be true.

    When I was judgmental of myself and unhappy, I attracted people that were the same way. And we would constantly reaffirm behaviours and actions that tended to inspire resentments and suffering and, in doing so, we would continue to be unhappy and judgmental. As I have become more interested in spiritual growth, the people I have attracted to me are people that are interested in the same and help guide me to greater spiritual growth.

    The people with whom I surround myself reflect back to me what I believe to be true about the world. As I have come to understand this, I have found that people just organically come into my life and organically slip away.  The universe seems to provide me with what I wish for when I wish for it. In the same way, it brings the people and events into and out of my life based on my truths and the intentions I hold. And, in turn, these people help me to mold new intentions and truths as I grow.

    Today, I try to spend time with people that nourish my soul and not my ego.

    A meditation for September 3, 2013.

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    wait – a meditation


    Don't wait until everything is just right […] There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger.

    Mark Victor Hansen

    In my life, as with everything else, I often looked to the external to provide me with a sign that the time is right for me to make a change. Because change scares me, I kept waiting for all the best possible scenarios to align to offer me the path of least resistance. Funny thing is, even when that happened, I still had an excuse for why it wasn't a good time. That's because I kept looking externally to solve something that was internal – my fear.

    My program of recovery showed me that my fear does not have to be my reality. Because of all the support I received from the Fellowship, I was able to feel safe to explore my fear and accept it; only then was I able to look internally past that fear and realize that there is something more important than it – my serenity.

    Once I prioritized my serenity, I started looking internally for the signs that I should make a change and what I should change. I would take inventory, pray, and meditate. When I did this, I made choices from a place of self-awareness and calm. As a result, I was able to let go of the results of my actions while still being able to accept the consequences of my actions. I am so grateful to the program for allowing me to know this peace.

    A meditation for August 2, 2013.

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    be – a meditation


    You are a child of the Universe,
    No less than the trees and the stars;
    You have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.

    -Desiderata Les Crane

    Someone once told me “You exist so you have the right to be.” I thought why did this person just repeat themselves in the same sentence. As I worked on the 12 Steps of Recovery, however, I realized that I often deny myself the right to be. I deny myself the right to set boundaries, or stand up for myself, or even acknowledge my own feelings. In the face of any opposition or conflict, I used to shut down – I'd freeze or simply submit to the other person's wishes.

    Now that I am in the program, I realize, I do not have to. I can ask for my needs to be met and I can meet those needs myself. If I need to feel safe, I can tell the other person that I am feeling scared or uncomfortable and request that they stop behaving in a certain manner towards me. If they choose not to, I can meet my own needs by leaving that situation for that moment.

    When I realized this, I suddenly felt angry with myself for not knowing this sooner – for not being that person earlier. But, thanks to the program, my Higher Power, and my Sponsor, I was able to realize that those behaviors were helpful to me once and I can grateful for those behaviors because they kept me safe once. They kept me alive. How could I not feel gratitude for that? But now I can realize that those behaviors do not work for me in my current situations.

    For me, it's like doing well in history class and then going to my math class and trying to apply what I learned in history class. It just doesn't work. It doesn't mean history is any better or worse a subject than math. It just means what I learned in history just won't help me score well in math. It's the same with my old behaviors. They worked for me in one situation, but not in another.

    With my connection to my Higher Power, the support of the Fellowship of my program of Recovery, and the 12 Steps, I can take those first steps forward and to learn not only what doesn't work for me anymore but also what could work for me in the future. And forgive myself for mistakes along the way because I know whatever happens is meant to be. When I do this, I let myself be.

    A meditation for July 19, 2013.

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